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Allocating Resources to Large Wildland Fires: A Model with Stochastic Production Rates

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Wildland fires that grow out of the initial attack phase are responsible for most of the damage and burned area. We model the allocation of fire suppression resources (ground crews, engines, bulldozers, and airdrops) to these large fires. The fireline at a given future time is partitioned into homogeneous segments on the basis of fuel type, available resources, risk, and other factors. Each is assigned a utility value corresponding to the importance of holding the segment. For a given resource allocation, the probability of holding the segment is modeled in terms of the (random) width of fireline built. The task is then to find the allocation that maximizes the expected total utility. With certain restrictions, it proves possible to formulate the optimization as a linear programming problem. Use of the model is demonstrated with a case study of a large fire representative of conditions on the Los Padres National Forest in southern California. One feature is that different assumptions about the uncertainty in the predictions of constructed fireline widths can lead to differences in the optimal resource allocations. Thus, if one inappropriately took the uncertainty to be zero (the deterministic case), the resulting allocation may well not be the optimal one. This illustrates the potential advantage of probabilistic modeling over the previous deterministic approach. For. Sci. 38(4):842-853
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Keywords: Wildland fire suppression planning; resource allocation

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Statistics, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521

Publication date: 1992-11-01

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  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
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